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Cops and kids starting off on the right foot

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LAWTON, Okla_It was a day of fun and positivity at Elmer Thomas Park. Thousands flocked to the park on Saturday for the Lawton Police Department's annual Cops 'n Kids Picnic. It's an opportunity for the police to open up their doors to the community and get to know Lawton's littlest residents. 

"The most precious thing is to see smiles and the laughter on their faces -- there's nothing more precious than the laughter of children, " said Lawton Police Chief James Smith.

Chief Smith said that is his motivation to keep the community safe, and at the picnic there was plenty of that motivation to go around.

Hundreds of kids filled the park to get a tasty meal, some great safety lessons and have a little fun, all in an effort to get to know their police officers.

"It's very encouraging, and I'm excited about it that so many people would come out on a day where they could be doing some many other different things, " said Chief Smith.

Volunteers from every organization from the fire department to local churches were out in droves to show kids the power of positive living.

Volunteer Whitney Jackson said events like the picnic are exactly what Lawton needs.

"With all this gang violence that's going on we need to teach kids that you don't need to be scared of a police officer or somebody of authority, " said Jackson. 

Sarah Corrella said she agrees. She is happy her kids are got the chance to see that the police can be their greatest ally. 

"I think a lot of times kids don't see the police unless there's something bad going on, and so for them to be able to relate the police to some good things and good activities and to actually see them do I think it's a really positive thing, " Corrella said.

Chief Smith said he and his officers are on a mission to help, and the earlier a child can understand that the more powerful an impact it will have on our community.

"The police are here to help you, and we are trying to instill that positive influence into the children, " said Smith.

Every child in attendance got a free t-shirt, a hot dog and drink.

All of the activities were free of charge.

Money for the event is raised year 'round through department fundraisers and community donations.

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